Tajikistan's President Talks About Problems, Parliament Applauds?

Tajik parliament applauds during the presidential message. Photo from Tajikistan President's page in Flickr.

Tajik parliament applauds during the presidential message. Photo from President of Tajikistan's page on Flickr.

On January 23, 2015, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon addressed his country's parliament for the last time before elections in the country scheduled for March 2015.

Over its term this session the Tajik parliament — which consists mostly of representatives of Rahmon's People’s Democratic Party — was criticised sharply by civil society and users of social networks for its perceived passiveness.

These perceptions are embodied in a Facebook comment posted during the address by a local lawyer known for her oppositional views, Fayzinisso Vohidova:

Ачоиб. Президент бо як хуни чигар аз зиед шудани вайроншавии оилахо назар ба соли гузашта сухан карда, омилхои чудо шудани чавононро тахлил мекунад, вакилон карсак мезананд. Президент аз кудакони маъюби модарзод ва беморихои онхо сухан мекунад, вакилон карсак мезананд. Карсакзании вакилонро хатто набераам дарк карда гуфт, ки чаро ин кадар онхо карсак мезананд. Ман мачбур шудам бигуям, ки президент мотам дорад, вакилон ид!

Interesting. The president talks about increased numbers of divorce in comparison to last year and analyses the reasons young families fall apart; MPs clap. The president talks about disabled children and their diseases; MPs applaud. Even my grandchildren asked me why these parliamentarians applaud all the time. I had to tell him that the president is mourning, but parliamentarians are celebrating.

Tajikistan's current parliament has 63 members, only a handful of whom have shown an interest in defending voters’ rights, civic activists complain.

There are currently eight registered political parties in Tajikistan, only two of whom can be considered as real opposition — the Islamic Revival Party (IRPT) and the Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan (SDPT). The SDPT, which has never been in the national parliament has threatened to boycott the upcoming elections as a protest at the sentencing of its deputy chairman Shuhrat Qudratov by a local court. Both parties have complained of increased pressure from government in the run up to the March vote. 

Experts believe that the next parliament will also be dominated by Rahmon's party. Since Tajikistan's independence, OSCE observers have never recognized elections there as either transparent or fair.

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